The smartphone rings in the end of metro tickets

“Hello sir, your smartphone, please?” will be a phrase we’ll soon be hearing in the metro. That’s right! For those who may have missed it, the IDFM (Ile-de-France Mobility) has made the decision to move to IoT. Like Amazon Go, it’ll be possible to simply “swipe” at the platform access points in order to enter the metro.

Indeed, this little piece of paper we know as the metro ticket will soon only be valuable to collectors. We can’t repeat it enough: the world is going digital! Whether it’s for archiving your company’s data, pay slips, tax returns, airline tickets or even your little one’s holiday photos, today’s era is one of digitization.


When mobility shifts to IoT

This new system guarantees greater speed and simplicity:

  • For users, less waiting in line to purchase a ticket. The purchase can be made directly on the mobile device.
  • For IDFM, no more printing of paper tickets. Each year, 550 million metro tickets are sold…the goal of zero waste is achieved!

Unfortunately, this technology won’t be accessible to all. Only those with Samsung mobile phones will be able to take advantage of this deal. Beginning in September, the concept will also be rolled out in all train, metro, bus and RER stations in the Ile-de-France region.

A test phase was rolled out among 3,500 public transport users with Samsung phones equipped with NFC. According to the Syndicate of Public Transportation, IDFM, the test was successful, since 80% of testers were in favor of this this new system and 88% could see themselves using it permanently.


NFC, what is it?

NFC stands for Near Field Communications (or CCP for Communications en Champ Proche in French). It’s a technology that all smartphones are equipped with.

In the form of a chip implanted in the phone, NFC allows you to send and receive information between a mobile phone and a receiver. You simply need to hold the phone up to the reader. No need to download an app beforehand.

Useful for mobile payments and use for public transportation, NFC is also an alternative to Bluetooth, whose use is considered to be more tedious.

It’s also increasingly being used as a QR Code function. Capable of detecting the barcodes found in front of some historic monuments, NFC automatically displays information related to these sites on the mobile phone.

What other technological advances does the RATP have in store for us?

Valérie Pécresse, President of IDFM, has announced the launch of the Navigo Easy card, set for June 12, 2019.

For tourists and casual users of public transportation alike, this card has the advantage of being used like a contactless credit card. Valérie Pécresse explains it as an electronic wallet.

It only costs two euros, and can be recharged with credits for one or more metro tickets.


Transportation and IoT, an Ile-de-France initiative?

The digitization of public transport tickets originally began in Toulouse. Indeed, it’s in this city that it all started. Toulouse is actually quite far ahead of schedule because it’s already possible to access transportation networks using any Android phone (as long as it has NFC).

Tisséo, Toulouse’s transportation company, is proposing replacing the Pastel card with the Ticket Easy service.

Even the Navigo Easy card has been inspired by its European neighbor, the Oyster Card. In London, it’s a payment method that’s so highly acclaimed that we hope to copy the model across the Channel in France. The reusable and unlimited rechargeable side makes it an easy and fast payment method. The goal is to reach the five million customer mark.


So what does the future hold for the metro ticket?

Nothing. The Paris region predicts their total disappearance in favor of smart phones and rechargeable Navigo cards by 2021. It’s predicted that metro ticket packets will no longer be sold by the summer of 2020.

While the public seems to be thrilled by the convenience of the whole idea, it’s still a disadvantage for iPhone owners. But don’t panic just yet! Apple won’t allow itself to miss out on an opportunity to be on the forefront of technology.

On the contrary, far from lagging behind, it’s already offering a similar public transportation payment system via NFC with its Apple Pay Transit service, which is already available in London, Chicago, Portland, Japan, China and Russia.


To read: Changes in French public transportation security